David McCullough

David McCullough is a very good author and also TV voice. He has written a number of interesting books and now has one out on the Wright Brothers. He was recently interviewed for his interests in books to read. The questions are quite good and it gives you a sense of his interests. At least other authors to give thought to.
Read about it here.


In all of the writing I need to do for my current work, Bob and I talk a lot about wording. He commented the other day that we both have a propensity to overuse prepositions. Then the next day here comes this comic.

Beautiful Gorges

Look to see some of the most amazing and beautiful canyons and gorges in the world on this site.

Eight Years Old

A busy time was had by all along with pizza at Nicolas' 8th birthday. Here he is showing off some of his loot such as "Captain Underpants". What a silly book.


A person most associated with the power and persuasion of propaganda is Goebbels, one of Adolph Hitler's henchmen. We don't know much about the man since little is often written about him compared to some of the others surrounding Hitler. Someone has now come out with a biography of his life (and death with his wife and children). More can be read here.

Intense Rainbow

With a bright sun break through a heavy rain shower, we got a beautiful and bright rainbow showing up toward the mountains.
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Memorial Day 2015

As many people have commented while approaching this holiday, Memorial Day is more than just a holiday. It is a day of remembrance, honor and service. This came home to me in prior years when Bob and I had the opportunity to be in Washington DC on the Memorial Day holiday weekend. We saw Rolling Thunder come into the city. We went to the War Memorials and also Arlington Cemetery. One cannot forget being there and the importance of these places after having gone.
I came across an article that discusses our soldiers, their sacrifice and our disconnect from understanding their heroism during war…………especially our Medal of Honor recipients. The article can be found here on Powerline, the best blog out there on the internet.
Speaking of Arlington Cemetery, a place never to be missed in one's lifetime, the history of origin of this fascinating and humbling place can be read here.



David and Renee found a litter of kittens (a kindle) hiding out in their burn pile. They found 4 at first and then a fifth. There may be a sixth still with the Queen. They appear about 5 weeks old or a little less. They are eating some soupy canned cat food which is good. Mom was taking good care of them since they appeared very healthy. Here is a photo of three of the group.

Readying the Gravesites

Bob and I loaded up and set out for the family gravesites at Powell and the IOOF cemeteries to be ready for the Memorial Day holiday. All the flower sets looked beautiful and made each spot stand out. We try to place flowers by my great-grandmother and great-great grandparents too at Powell Cemetery.

Holiday Weekend, What If

We don't plan on doing anything exciting over the holiday weekend. The weather is going to be very low clouds and blah for being outdoors for any activities. The time will be spent on playing catch up on Winn activities that need to be done. One can dream though and here is an interactive map on how to visit all 48 continuous states to visit a landmark there. It says it can be done in 9 days.

Death and the Civil War

A culture of death seemed to surround the people living at the time of America's Civil War. Life was harder and many children did not live to adulthood. Many adults died at a much earlier age than in current times. This article reviews two new books that address why that may have been such a presence in the culture of those time.


Mackubin Thomas Owens, former military, writes interesting articles about battles and aspects of the Civil War. This time he has covered the period post Civil War and what it meant to the rebuilding of a broken United States. These were dark days in our history and parts of which carry through to this day. Further reading of this article can be found here.

Deer Posing

Our local deer herd, one of the poseurs……..

Peaceful Neighbors as Mass Murderers

How can groups of people live a number of years side by side, carry on business and daily activities, yet subsequently end up murdering those same neighbors on a mass scale? Genocide in Armenia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, currently in Syria and Iraq? What syndrome allows this to occur?
A discussion of the underlying physiological nature of this issue is discussed here.

Men Who Pulled The Triggers

What makes some people follow orders and do horrific crimes in the "normal" course of their lives or duties? What made Germans and others turn on Jews, Gypsies, and others to lead them to their deaths or commit the act of murder. A new book might have some insight. The review is here.

"We know a lot about how the Germans carried out the Holocaust. We know much less about how they felt and what they thought as they did it, how they were affected by what they did, and what made it possible for them to do it. In fact, we know remarkably little about the ordinary Germans who made the Holocaust happen -- not the desk murderers in Berlin, not the Eichmanns and Heydrichs, and not Hitler and Himmler, but the tens of thousands of conscripted soldiers and policemen from all walks of life, many of them middle-aged, who rounded up millions of Jews and methodically shot them, one by one, in forests, ravines and ditches, or stuffed them, one by one, into cattle cars and guarded those cars on their way to the gas chambers.

In his finely focused and stunningly powerful book, "Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland," Christopher R. Browning tells us about such Germans and helps us understand, better than we did before, not only what they did to make the Holocaust happen but also how they were transformed psychologically from the ordinary men of his title into active participants in the most monstrous crime in human history. In doing so he aims a penetrating searchlight on the human capacity for utmost evil and leaves us staring at his subject matter with the shock of knowledge and the lurking fear of self-recognition."

Russia's Take on Current Times

Timothy Snyder is an author I have mentioned in this blog a number of times. He has written a number of books and articles about the area and political times between Germany and the Soviet Union before and during World War II. His description of the turmoil, war and totalitarian methods during the 1930s and 40s is startling and gruesome. Here is an interesting article of his evaluating how Vladimir Putin is using the Hitler/Stalin pact of 1939 as a basis for his actions toward the Ukraine and other countries now. This Pact was taboo in Russia for many years since Hitler turned on Stalin to attach the Soviet Union. Interesting and concerning where this goes now.

Drone Views of Damaged Cities

Here is a drone's eye view of cities where they have been de-populated due to radiation leaks (Chernobyl, Tomioka) or population moving out (Detroit). There are 36 photos. People used to live normal lives there and now they are uninhabitable or next to being so.

A Real Amerikans

Many people have watched the TV series, The Americans, with the C as a Soviet symbol. It is an interesting show that is well acted. The premise is a family where the parents came over to America after Soviet recruitment as teenagers to infiltrate the system as normal Americans but are spies. Their children do not know they are Soviet spies.

I came across this article and video from 60 minutes about a real spy who still lives in the U.S. but came over as a spy from East Germany and the Soviet Union in the 1980s much like in the TV series. More can be found here. His name is Jack Barsky but is an accepted name not his original. Jack Barsky was a child who died and he assumed the name.

"Tonight, we're going to tell you a story you've probably never heard before because only a few people outside the FBI know anything about it. It's a spy story unlike any other and if you think your life is complicated, wait till you hear about Jack Barsky's, who led three of them simultaneously. One as a husband and father, two as a computer programmer and administrator at some top American corporations and three as a KGB agent spying on America during the last decade of the Cold War."

Thomas the Train

Choo Choo Ryan as mentioned a few days ago had an awesome birthday. A lot of his gifts centered around his interest in trains, especially Thomas the Train. There are a number of versions of Thomas to purchase. They seem cute and harmless.

Little did I know that Thomas is not well liked in Great Britain. He is too authoritarian I guess and regimented. Not good for the kiddos. For a little history about Thomas the Train or Tank Engine, you can read about the reverend who invented him.

Early Feminists

If one reads about English literature and especially from the Regency period, you will see mention of Mary Wollstonecroft as an early spokes person for women. Of course, many of us know her daughter better, Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein.
Now and author has written a biography of both women within the realm of the same book. Usually mother and daughter have been treated as individuals and separately. Here is an interesting take and review of this new book. It may be one I will need to consider buying.

Rhododendron Splendor

Our white rhododendron with slightly yellow highlights is looking spectacular as always. Here is a view of it in full bloom at the time of the party.

Cupcake Train

Some more evidence of fun.

Ryan says "Hurry up and get this train on track for the candle lighting and then eating"
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Here come the candles!

Best 2.0 Birthday Evah

After all the food, birthday presents, and lighting of the cupcakes, it was the best 2.0 birthday evah! for Mr. Ryan who had a very busy exciting day. The weather could not have been better for a family gathering.

VE Day

Another anniversary today though not a Centennial, a 70th Anniversary of VE Day, Victory in Europe. The United States was celebrating the surrender of Nazi Germany this day in history. It was neat to see the news casts show a World War II fly over of the Washington DC monuments and the Capitol Mall that was held for the remaining World War II veterans who could attend. These men saved us and the world. At least at that time. I hope they did not save us so our current President and his groupees can turn around now and give the world back to other bad guys.


Today is the Centennial of the sinking of the Lusitania during World War I. The ship was a cruise liner sunk by German submarines off the Irish coastline. The loss of life was large and was a trigger to bring the United States into World War I later on. Bob is reading a book about the Lusitania written by Erik Larsen called "Dead Wake".

Tardigrades, Tough Creatures

Cockroaches are said to be able to survive a nuclear war. Actually the toughest creature on Earth is a tardigrade, or Water Bear. More about them here.

"They are also the only life form known to be able to survive the near vacuum of space for extended periods. (Note: humans can actually survive the near vacuum of space for about 90 seconds without long term damage, but we have nothing on this creature.) They can lie dormant for 10-100 years and then come back to life with a drop of water. When it comes to durability, nothing on Earth can match the very real “Water Bear”- a tiny creature the size of a grain of sand (averaging about a millimeter long) that is often lauded as the toughest creature on planet Earth.

There are over 1000 known species of Water Bears (called such because when they walk, their gait loosely resembles plump little bears ambling along on eight legs). Also known as “tardigrades” (from the Latin “tardigradus” meaning ‘slow walker&rsquoWinking, they thrive in the most extreme environments on every corner of the Earth- from the Equator to the Polar regions- forests, swamps, deserts, tundras, mountains, glaciers, hot springs- from the highest point on Earth along the Himalayan mountain range, to the deepest parts of the sea, tardigrades are there. Less excitingly, they can also be found in your backyard where you can usually find them in common moss, lichens and ferns, feeding on natural detritus in the undergrowth."

Burying Caesar

Was Julius Caesar the greatest person (besides Jesus) who lived? Or at least one of the greatest? He certainly had an impact over a lot of history and a wide range of the known world in his day. From Britain to Egypt, he made his mark.
Now someone has written a book about his death. Was this the most famous assassination in history? Possibly, maybe up there is Lincoln's too.
To read more about this book of his time and final days, please go here.

Cheering PaPa On

Some of the family gang showed up to cheer the hearty runner on to the finish line. Here is Ryan, David, and Nicolas near the finish line waiting for PaPa to get through the final race wrap up.

Near The Finish

Here is the big runner, coming in to the final stretch near the finish line. This looks more tiring than I think it really was for him this time around.bob-at-run-end-5-3-15

Bob At The 5K Run

Bob went and ran his 5K Cheadle Lake Run today. He hadn't been able to train for about one month but he did better than last year and did not seem tired. Must have been the better shoes he had this time around.

Turkey In The Act

Even our wild turkeys like to get in the act around the camera. Surprising it is just one and not the flock which wanders around the area. There are lots of them.
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